It all started 14 years ago, not just 12 months back! In 1998, the nature club of my school promised to organize a trek to the Himalayas for 10th grade students after our Board exams. Imagine my excitement when I’d been waiting to set foot in the Himalayasever since I’d heard of its existence (in 4th grade geography class, I guess). Being an only child sometimes is the biggest bane in life as I realized to my utter disappointment. My parents refused to allow me on the trek and despite throwing tantrums I could not achieve what I badly craved for. So, under the given circumstances I did the one sensible thing – ‘Tactical Retreat’!
A year back I googled ‘Nature Club’ and google God threw up Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) as the first one of the endless list of results. It took me 14 years to gather guts to face another possible rejection by my parents and used my so-called acquired persuasion skills on them to let me join CTC. What worked against me 14 years back, worked for me 14 years later (being an only child). So, after joining the mailing list/google group of CTC, there has been ‘No Looking Back’.
Trekking has had an enlightening and a healing effect on me. It has helped me understand myself better – mind/body/soul. I’ve taken some major decisions pertaining to life and career while on treks and have found consistent solace amidst the silence of the peaks that have time and again reiterated the glory of nature and its inexplicable, intricate connect with humans. The reward after every trek is the absolutely mind-blowing peace and positive energy that keeps me going for quite some time thereafter.
The vast expanse of the sky above and the valleys below have a magical effect on me. Every time I set foot on the mountains, marching forward in an attempt to scale its peak, I get the feeling that I’m reaching out to nature trying to appeal to its beauty. Every time I reach the peak of a mountain and look around at the magnificence of nature, I am infinitely thankful for being worthy of the beautiful experience. The sense of joy and fulfillment coursing through me after completing a trek is immeasurable and irreplaceable. Many times I wish those few hours at the peak would run into days and years. Alas!
CTC has been a home away from home for me. The variety of people I’ve met over the last one year is absolutely incredible. It is where like-minded individuals come together as a family, yet remain anonymous! It gives solitude while helping stay social. Everyone respects the others’ privacy. The type of bonding that occurs between strangers during a trek is unbelievable. It is an effective team building instrument as each participant is bound by a sense of mutual dependence.
I have participated in 16 treks – 3 easy, 5 moderate & 8 difficult, apart from organizing a couple of treks since Feb 2011 with CTC. The top 5 treks would be the Palani Exploration 5 (PX5), Treasure Hunt 2 (TH2) at Nagalapuram, Palani Exploration 1 (PX1) repeat, Kumara Parvatha/Ombattu Gudde combination and Nagala West 880m peak night trek.
The founder, Peter Van Geit is a Belgian resident of Chennai who has been trekking in the Western & Eastern Ghats, apart from trekking in parts ofHimalayasfor the last 14 years. He founded CTC, four years ago, as a voluntary non-profit organization whose members meet weekly for outdoor recreation, environmental education & social responsibility. Its membership base has touched the 10000 mark. He was instrumental in inspiring me to become an organizer. I have organized a couple of moderate/moderate+ treks and plan to organize difficult ones in the near future.
I was interviewed by a journalist, Ms. Bhavana Upadhyay, who has narrated the same in her blog www.tillingtheearthwoman.blogspot.in under the title ‘South Indian Rose on the Mountains’ dated April 25, 2012 and I blog my trekking experiences at www.exhilaratingmoments.
Contributed by Gayathri Sai Chandrasekaran(Batch 2006, IBS Chennai)